“Lessons are not being learned in Bangladesh - again the use sub-standard material, structural deficiencies and neglecting health and safety standards took away 8 precious lives and left 46 injured” said Shahidul Alam, BSBWWF General Secretary while expressing his outrage and disappointment. The BWI along with its affiliates BBWWF and BSBWWF undertook an urgent mission from 18-20 March 2015 and visited the accident site, met the victims’ families, injured workers, local leaders and officials. The incident occurred at the Mongla Cement Factory in Bagehat District, 300 kilometers from Dhaka on 12 March 2015.
The mission visited the Bagmara area of the Khulna division to meet the family members of the deceased workers and also visited injured workers at the Khulna Medical Hospital. The visit and interactions revealed a tale of negligence and utter disrespect to the health and safety standards and consequent loss of lives and injuries. Khadiza Akhtar, wife of deceased Bakir Billah stated: “We have lost our sole bread earner in this accident and now what we remain with is a paltry compensation of Taka 100,000. Is this how you value the life of a worker?”
As per the Bangladeshi Labour Law, the stipulated compensation for death during work is Taka 100,000 (US$ 1250) and additionally Taka 20,000 (US$ 250) has been given by the local administration. However, the families of the deceased and injured workers were unanimous in venting their anger on the low compensation that did not do justice to the families who have either lost their bread winners or find them injured.
One of the injured workers at the Khulna Medical College, Mansoor mentioned “I had reached the work site early in the morning and the work commenced as per schedule. The roof gave in all of a sudden, the workers did not have any personal protective equipment – I am now lying in the hospital in severe pain and have injuries on chest, hand and leg and also two teeth are broken. At my age, it will take months for me to recover from this injury”.
Along with other partners a campaign is launched for enhancing compensation and additionally explore legal action while continuing to work on revision in Bangladesh Labour Law and also ratification of ILO Conventions 155 and Convention 167.